Dame Margaret Thatcher: Women, Power and Politics

Thatcher zpsa7255709

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been excoriated this week in a way that makes no sense.

After all, she was a duly elected official who served her term in office in a way that received approval from a good number of the people she governed. Nothing in her governance that I know of lends itself to the unseemly, downright crude behavior that has followed her death.

Jessica Hof, who blogs at All Around the Watchtower, wrote an interesting post, Women, Power and Politics, which was published on nebraskenergyobservor, taking the Iron Lady’s attackers to task.

I’ve been disturbed by the viciousness of the post-mortem attacks on Dame Thatcher myself. I saw a photo of one sign (which was held by a woman) proclaiming “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.” If anyone dared to use language that caricatured African Americans in this way when speaking of President Obama, they would be rightly criticized and shamed for it. However, as usual, when the object of this sort of thing is a woman, no one remarks on it.

Here is Jessica’s fine post in its entirely. Published with permission.

Women and power

by JessicaHof

womenandpowerWe live in a society in which men still dominate the political scene. Relax, this isn’t the prelude to a rant about how unfair that is – quite the opposite. Politics takes the sort of dedication which the gender which does obsession with stuff well has in spades. From my limited experience, men quite like power and they don’t, on the whole, regret (much) the loss of family time which it necessitates. Men seem happy to put the time and the effort in, so I see no reason why they shouldn’t reap the rewards.

When Mr Blair became Prime Minister he came to office with a lot of new female MPs, and we were told that a new era had opened. Well, nearly twenty years on, little has changed. Few of those women have got on in politics, and they have not inspired a new generation of women to try their hand.  It does not seem how hard feminists try, women don’t want to play that game. Sure, you’ll get some women who want to do it, but the idea that most women want to do it seems, by the evidence, to be wrong.

Maybe that’s why there is an unpleasant tine of misogyny in some of the leftist criticisms of Mrs Thatcher. Would anyone be calling a dead Tony Blair a ‘warlock’, and what, pray, is the male equivalent of ‘the bitch’. It is hard not to see in some of this a sense by men (and some women) that there was something fundamentally wrong in Mrs T even being in power.

A difficult one for the Left of course. They are supposed to be in favour of equal opportunity and female empowerment – and there was Mrs Thatcher, who was very powerful and owed nothing to equal opps.  She took on the men at their own game and she was better at it. That may lead a woman like Glenda Jackson (whose idea of empowerment was to run round in the nude in a Ken Russell film) to say she wasn’t her idea of what a woman should be, but that is more evidence, were any more needed, of the inability of leftist women to actually understand the majority of their own sex. Most of us don’t want to be men. We like men, we think they are wonderful, and we know that properly handled, they are God’s greatest gift. But there’s a whole art in that :)

Mrs Thatcher never pretended to be like men. She used her femininity as a powerful weapon. She knew that most men like a good-looking woman, and that being strong, efficient and capable are no bars to being attractive. By all accounts, she was perfectly capable of flirting with Mr Reagan, and even the socialist Mitterrand was struck by her combination of the mouth of Marilyn Monroe with the eyes of Caligula. She made her husband a cooked breakfast every morning, and she fussed over her staff like a mother hen.

The plain fact is that in our society there is no template for what being a woman in power is supposed to be like. No one makes anyone go into politics, and if you don’t want people to comment on your looks, don’t go into politics. If you do, don’t complain that you don’t get treated like a man – do what Mrs T did and take advantage of that.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X